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City prolonging this simple case into substantial attorney fees

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

For those of you who do not know, the honorable Justice Larry M. Smukler granted Mr. Gammon his out-of-pocket expenses for having corrected Ward 5's 3-vote election count for City Council. However, the presiding justice added the stipulation that the award of costs of $280.76 is "subject to the condition of the submission of a completed W–9 form" to the City of Laconia. If Mr. Gammon "does not wish to submit his Social Security Number, he can forgo the award of costs."

The court's order on Document No. 15 has been appealed to the state Supreme Court.

At the last hearing on the matter the, City of Laconia finally revealed its only true perceived justification for mandating an IRS W–9 Form is when an abatement is granted and taxes have been paid the city requires a Social Security Number.

What was not stated to the court is that the W-9 is required because per RSA 76:16, III, (h);

The statement: "If an abatement is granted and taxes have been paid, interest on the abatement shall be paid in accordance with RSA 76:17-a. Any interest paid to the applicant must be reported by the municipality to the United States Internal Revenue Service, in accordance with federal law. Prior to the payment of abatement with interest, the taxpayer shall provide the municipality with the applicant's Social Security number or federal Tax Identification number. Municipalities shall treat the Social Security or federal Tax Identification information as confidential and exempt from a public information request under RSA 91-A.'' (RSA 76:16)

What is problematic for the City of Laconia is that no interest is included in the out-of-pocket cost — reimbursement accepted by the court or contested by the city.

Furthermore, the Superior Court did not award interest on the cost of fees for filing, at the rate of 6 percent per year from the date recorded to the date of reimbursement. No interest, no W-9.

The City Council should feel proud of its hands-off approach, prolonging this simple case into substantial attorneys' fees.

Thomas A. Tardif